Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GM Ending The Saturn Brand

After talks with Penkse Automotive broke down over whether GM could provide product, GM has decided to end the Saturn brand and close down the dealerships. Saturn will now join other failed GM brands like Oldsmobile and Pontiac which GM pulled the plug on when the corporation's financial situation grew desperate.

Originally developed in 1985 as an answer to high quality imports such as Toyota or Honda, Saturn was supposed to offer quality built small cars, but branched out into SUVs and other areas. The first Saturn automobiles looked somewhat similar to the cheaper Geo imports, but were well built with excellent customer service. Saturn operated outside of the normal GM sphere on it's own. And buyers were impressed with the vehicles overall and the brand won many awards as a "best buy" and for high quality. However, the money problems at GM forced the company to look to sell Saturn.

The failure of Saturn has be very bittersweet over at GM. The attempt to build a quality product was admirable, however just wasn't enough to make the brand real profitable. Yet buyers for quality imports will always buy. And unless some desperate 11th hour attempt by some Chinese or Korean company suddenly comes through now with Penske out of the picture, then the brand will certainly be gone. Penske hoped to lure an automotive division of Korea's Samsung into joining with them. And a Chinese company bought the Hummer brand. Saturn's survival chances never looked very good. Now the brand appears to be gone.

THE BILL ENGVALL SHOW Becomes The First Cancellation

TBS has decided to pull the plug on THE BILL ENGVALL SHOW, making it the first official cancellation of the new TV season. Chronic low ratings doomed this series which did have a few fans, but just not enough.

As part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour group. Engvall was an important part. And his TV show managed to capture that part of this folksy but redneck humor style for the most part, although the show was far from ever capturing the popularity of the BLUE COLLAR shows and cable specials.

Engvall's comedy album, HERE'S YOUR SIGN, scored a number #5 hit position on the 1996 U.S. Billboard charts and his single"Here's Your Sign(Get The Picture) with Travis Tritt scored #29 on the country charts in 1997. TBS had hoped that a little of that magic would wear off on their station. However, not enough viewers followed the TV show.

VW's New 170 MPG 1L Concept Car

VW is running this cool new concept car around a few auto shows worldwide. The L1 gets an amazing 100 kilometers or 62 miles per liter of fuel, which translates into 170mpg in the ultra-lightweight vehicle. This two passenger car has the passenger sitting behind the driver, which may seem odd. However, for the sake of high mileage some interesting weight-saving changes had to be made.
While the styling is very unVWlike in so many ways, the car nonetheless has a unique character about it still with it's slender cigar-like styling and swing-open cockpit door. From the side the car even looks strangely something like a Citroen SM model. The engine is 36hp type, which has as much as power as the old VWs once did. However, it's those modern advances in fuel savings that set it apart as a great technology advance in fuel savings.
Will you be seeing a 1L in VW showrooms anytime real soon? Likely not. However, many of the fuel saving advances will likely find their way into some future VW models in the next few years.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conan O'Brien Back After Head Injury

Conan O'Brien was back on the air Monday after last Friday's accidental fall during a race with Teri Hatcher from DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. O'Brien slipped on the floor and hit the back of his head. At first he thought that he was developed some memory problems and the NBC nurse was called in and he was taken to the hospital for evaluation where it was discovered that he suffered a slight concussion.

Since the show could not be completed due to the injury, the show was canceled and the audience sent home and a rerun was aired instead that evening. But on Monday, Conan O'Brien was back on the air with a new show and played the film footage of the accident and joked about the incident which turned out to be rather minor.

Announcer Andy Richter also managed a few good jokes about the accident as well on Monday's show. But is Conan O'Brien "The Man Of Steel"? Well, not really. But he took a licking and kept on ticking it seems.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ratings For THE JAY LENO SHOW Continue To Fall

At first it seemed like a great idea. But now the reality for NBC is that the 10pm primetime version of Jay Leno's new show has fallen off by at least 66% in viewers from a high of over 18 million viewers down to a far less stellar 4.99 million viewers last Friday coming in third behind the season openers of THE MENTALIST and GREY"S ANATOMY, which both had around three times more viewers than Leno did. That's one heck of a big fall. In fact, in the ratings war with a repeat of THE MENTALIST a week before the new season episodes, Leno's show actually lost to this CBS rerun. Amazing.

NBC doesn't appear to panicking quite yet. Yet it's pretty obvious that NBC is running less promos for the new Leno show. What NBC now must do is to look for better guests to book to draw bigger ratings for the show. But critics haven't been real kind to the show. Many think the new show stinks. And Leno looks older and more grey as well. And the sort of comedy Leno could get away with at 11:30 seems a little less funny at 10pm. NBC might have looking to cut costs at the network, but have really succeeded cutting ratings instead.

Maybe the Leno show can be rescued. But then NBC is in the ratings dumpster overall. But for a normal network such dismal ratings would certainly result in cancellation. NBC needs to think of something....and fast.

Vespa's Cool GTV 250 Scooter & Sidecar Concept

Vespa built this cool sidecar concept show scooter for the 2009 motorcycle show circuit. It evokes a sort of 1950's nostalgia. The scooter is a GTV 250cc model, however the sidecar is the real star here. It's a nice addition to long-time Italian brand. Sidecars are rare enough, but especially for scooters, although a few Chinese produced scooters can be purchased with a sidecar. Maybe the sidecar needs to make a real comeback.

LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT Will Face Mass Cast Exodus

USA Network, a sister cable TV network of NBC, has confirmed rumors that the cast of LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT will go through a major cast revamp. Popular actors Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Eric Bogosian and Julianne Nicholson are scheduled to leave for season nine. However, D'Onofrio will star in a two hour season opener as Detective Robert Goren where he hands his job over to Detective Zach Nichols(Jeff Goldblum).

While some insiders might claim that these wholesale changes to the cast are related to cost cutting running all through the USA-NBC networks, others argue that Jeff Goldblum fits in more with the USA Network philosophy of unique characters. Goldblum has a propensity for quirky comedy, and his unusual style is much like that of the popular Adrian Monk character on MONK in some ways. And since cost cutting has forced the USA Network to end the very popular MONK series, it might be hoped that Jeff Goldblum can reinvent the LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT brand with his unique acting style and somewhat satisfy some fans of the MONK series.

All of this is something of a gamble for LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. Will these changes make the series appear fresh, or will they only alienate long-time fans? And how far can the series go if Jeff Goldblum goes out for laughs on the series? LAW & ORDER: SVU introduced a quirky character last season who nearly made the program into a comedy at moments. The result was unusual until his character had a mental breakdown and was written out of the series. The fact of the matter is that fans of the LAW & ORDER franchise look for serious drama and not laughs. The series walks a tightrope in how far it can go looking for a little comic relief.

But overall, Jeff Goldblum is a very popular actor and extremely talented. And so far fans of the series have responded very well to his unique personality and role in the series. In fact, the revamped series will now completely revolve around Jeff Goldblum's character compared to the complex character played by actor Vincent D'Onofrio. But D'Onofrio's brilliant, but troubled character will be missed. D'Onofrio's character seemed as brilliant as he was volatile and disturbed just under the surface. Actress Kathryn Erbe's smart alecky character made a nice foil for the complex character played by D'Onofrio. It was great actor chemistry. Whether actor Jeff Goldblum can be matched with a suitable foil to match his character will be a challenge for the program. Maybe these changes might not be so bad.

Stay Tuned.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Doors LIVE IN NEW YORK Boxset due out in November

On November 10, 2009, just in time for the Christmas season The Doors will release a great six disc LIVE IN NEW YORK boxset that features the final shows done with Jim Morrison in the United States in 1970 before his death in Paris. The six disc set will feature awesome clear sound quality. Longtime Doors' recording engineer Bruce Botnick carefully did the mastering work for this album. It might rate among the best live sound quality recordings ever by the legendary band.

Many unreleased tracks will be included in this boxset as well. Rather than playing Madison Square Garden for their last shows, The Doors chose the more intimate sounding Felt Forum. This also adds to the quality of the included shows. A few of the tracks have appeared before on the ABSOLUTELY LIVE album as well as the 1997 four disc boxset. Once again, near Christmas time The Doors have released a real gem for their fans. Last year, LIVE AT THE MATRIX was released about the same time. Previously much of the material on the album was only available as a bootleg recording on vinyl. However, that two disc set included many songs not heard on the bootleg.

The new boxset is taking preorders at CD Universe for a price of $71.98, which is a pretty nice price for this great new Doors' album. I don't think you can go wrong on this. The Doors are always one of the best groups of all time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Proposed Beverage Tax Is Braindead Upon Arrival

A proposed national tax on soft drinks, juice drinks and flavored milks by some misguided Washington do-gooders is supposed to encourage more healthy choices and supposedly combat obesity. However, not much real intelligent thought went into this proposal. If this proposal is trying to promote more milk use and less fruit juice or soda use it fails to note that up to 50% of all Americans have some problems digesting milk products. Further, products such as whole milk contain up to 11% cholesterol, the potentially deadly artery clogging substance. Heart attacks rate among the leading cause of death in the United States. Is this what this braindead tax proposal is trying to promote, more heart attack deaths?

A further problem is encouraging more milk use may only encourage more milk production and more animal cruelty and more use of hormones to boost milk production. More and more hormones are used to increase milk production. Further, if milk itself wasn't related to weight gain, then how come some many athletes like weightlifter and football players drink so much milk to bulk up? Milk may contain protein and other healthy elements, but with up to 50% of the American population having some problems digesting milk products to some extent compared to few complications for juice drinks or even soda, it seems absurd to promote more milk use.

Another problem is that milk products tend to be the most common food allergy substances of all food products. Milk and egg products always lead the allergen alerts on products, yet this is what this proposal seems to be promoting, The fact of the matter is that juice drinks or soft drinks have few allergy effects, and are certainly a healthy alternative compared to milk products for those with milk product allergies.

Milk products also tend to worsen rheumatoid arthritis as well. On the other hand, some soft drinks such as ginger ale have anti-inflammatory effects by comparison that fight pain and are good for arthritis. Further some juice drinks such as pineapple juice may help arthritis as well. Cranberry juice is good for fighting bladder infections because it is a natural antibiotic. On the other hand milk products are famous for creating or worsening sinus and ear infections or other health complications by comparison.

Another major issue is why raise taxes on families just when the economy is so bad right now? Prices are high enough. And since most drinks contain at least some health value, all except alcohol are allowed to be purchased with food stamps. Retailers and consumers simply don't need a misguided new beverage tax right now.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chrysler To Drop Owner's Manuals For New 2010 Models

Chrysler intends to drop owner's manuals in 2010 in favor of a DVD and a highlight booklet. Chrysler claims environmental reasons, however cost-cutting is the most likely reason for the change. The change is sure to be controversial.

Receiving a high quality owner's manual has traditionally been one of the most important aspects of buying a new vehicle and speaks well for the quality of the product. Many brands feature some beautiful owner's manuals that even become collector's items by car collectors.

Last year when I bought a quality Benelli motorbike it came with a beautiful leather-bound cased owner's manual. The extremely high quality of the manual spoke so well of the quality of the motorbike. However, Chrysler expects buyers to be largely satisfied with a DVD costing only a few pennies to make by comparison.

Chrysler may claim that decision will save about 930 tons of paper or about 20,000 trees. However, when you buy a new motor vehicle part of the ritual is getting a great owner's manual to own. Chrysler's decision isn't a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Frontera New Mexico 3 Bean Gourmet Soup Is Simply Awful

Absolutely the worst gourmet chili soup that I've ever tasted is from the famous Frontera restaurants own brand which sells in gourmet stores for all of $4.95 retail. For that price, you'd expect something really good. Instead the apple cider vinegar taste is so overwhelming that it tastes more like vinegar soup than anything. In short, it's simply awful.

Chef Rick Bayless has a number of highly successful restaurants and has won a number of cooking awards. However none of these awards can certainly be for this simply awful soup which is woefully short on beans and more than plentiful with way too much apple cider vinegar. With so few beans in the soup, it has little real body despite tomato ingredients as being the main and most plentiful ingredients. The excessive vinegar taste simply ruins this product. It's far from gourmet for flavor unless you like vinegar.

The taste of this soup is so bad that you'll find it very difficult to finish one bowl, let alone crave for more. It could hardly be worse for flavor. I'd recommend you to skip this particular soup. Poor+

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

THE GOOD WIFE Might Be One Of The Best

The new series, THE GOOD WIFE, starring former ER star Julianna Margulies, has success written all over it. It's easily her best performance since ER. And the storyline is excellent as well. It likely will become a Tuesday night favorite for many fans.

The story relates around a wife who is attempting to hold her family together after a major political scandal sends her husband to jail. The storyline of how she deals with this betrayal and scandal. Her husband is played by Chris Noth.

The only real concern that I personally have about this new series is that both Chris Noth and Julianna Margulies both have an established reputation for quitting shows. Neither seem to stay with a project for very long. If this show becomes a hit like it should, will one of them get the "wanderlust" once again. When you have a reputation as a "quitter", that's a tough image to beat. But for now just enjoy the show. It's one of the best new entries.

THE GOOD WIFE debuts at 10PM on CBS. It will be interesting to see how it fares against the popular Jay Leno program on NBC.


The new spinoff of the popular NCIS series, NCIS: LOS ANGELES is set to debut at 9:00 tonight on CBS. And it looks great and does honor to the series. And actors LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell both seem excellent and well suited to their roles. The writing is crisp and sharp enough. Altogether it's an excellent new police procedural show for CBS.

The first episode tonight opens with a horrible criminal who has kidnapped a young little girl. His criminal name is also a clue to how evil he is. It's a great opening episode. CBS has another great crime drama here. And the writers have a clear vision of what it takes to create a great show.

When the original NCIS series became a big hit, as a replacement for the aging JAG series, a spinoff of the series became almost inevitable. and the results are well worthwhile. You can chalk this new show up as a must watch tonight.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Founder Of Sazon Goya Foods Dies

Jose Antonio Ortega Bonet, the founder of the excellent Hispanic brand of seasonings and foods, Sazon Goya, has died at age 79. Mr. Bonet was born in Havana, Cuba. Some of the Goya food brands such as their Cuban style black bean soup are simply wonderful. Every product they sell are top quality and just loaded with taste.

As Mr. Bonet's wealth grew he became an anonymous donor to numerous charity organizations. He was one of the most kind and decent businessmen ever. His wonderful gourmet food products are common to find at quality stores such as Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

Many of the Goya products are so good that many award winning chefs give credit to Goya products for helping them win cooking awards. The taste of many of their spices, soups and beans are among the best on the market. Goya is a great brand name.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Motorcycle Club Ride Turns Into Human Dominoes

A motorcycle club's ride through Wilsonville, Oregon turned into a giant human dominoes crash when a lead motorcycle attempted to avoid hitting a sudden freeway traffic stall and a pickup truck, causing two columns of bikes and drivers to spill all over the freeway causing 10 injuries, 26 crashes and two critical injuries requiring life flight.

With the tight formation of the bikes, there was no time to react when the sudden traffic stall resulted and the collision occurred, forcing so many bikes to fall like dominoes resulting in many injuries and damaged bikes.

Most of the motorcyclists had traveled from Idaho for the ride which had been safe up to the point of the sudden dangerous freeway traffic stall.

FOX TV's "Chicken" Flub Becomes Internet Comedy Hit

A New York FOX affiliate station's TV anchor flub has become a huge Internet comedy hit overnight. WNYW's Ernie Anastos was attempting to make some small talk about some chicken story, and meant to say "Keep plucking that chicken". Unfortunately the anchor flubbed the line and instead the "F bomb" came out creating nationwide laughter on viral videos on the Internet.
The FOX station is extremely upset at the mistake. Only last year, anchor Sue Simmons accidentally used an off-color comment for a promo that was accidentally aired that led to an apology as well. And no doubt the station is concerned about some FCC action.
But for now, the outrageous slip-up is creating laughter and nationwide jokes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Michelle Obama Will Step From Celebrity To Policy Role

First lady Michelle Obama plans to make the transition from a mere celebrity role into advocating for public policy soon. Her first major issue will the controversial health care reform policy that the Obama Administration is advocating for that appears to be in real political trouble. Like some other first ladies such as Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama wants to strongly identify with some policy issues. Right now, she has immense popularity as a celebrity, but will wager that all on stronger issue and policy identification.

Health care reform has been a vexing problem for years. On one hand, Americans want lower prices and insurance that allows for treatment of pre-existing conditions and other reforms. And many Americans can be bankrupted by a major illness. Yet there is a terrific fear of change, even among those with little means to purchase health insurance. And of course, the devil is always in the details as well.

It will interesting to see if the popularity of Michelle Obama suffers at all if she becomes strongly identified with issues. First ladies always are a celebrity first, but identification with controversial or unpopular issues can have unpredictable negative effects on celebrity status.

Cock 'N Bull: The World's Best Ginger Ale

There are many good brands of ginger ale out there including commercial brands like Schweppes or even acceptably good brands like Western Family. Then there's a small group of high line extreme quality ginger ales like Boylan's or Reed's. But probably the world's best ginger ale by far has to be by Cock N' Bull of Hopkins, Minn. Right away the taster is presented with a rich true flavor of real ginger. No artificial flavors here. And, boy oh boy, is the that ginger flavor indeed strong. It's truly the "extra ginger soft drink" as claimed. And as claimed, it's "definitely too good for the kids".

Cock N' Bull claims to be "America's best-kept secret". They are probably right about that fact. This stuff is excellent. It simply makes most other claimed ginger ale brands look very sad by comparison. After one taste of Cock N' Bull, the other brands look pretty lame by comparison.

And Cock N' Bull also makes a great mixer as well. There's a great Moscow Mule recipe on the carton. With a little vodka, lime and ice cubes you can make a high quality wonderful mixed drink as good as any great bar would serve.

Interestingly, Cock N' Bull originated in Hollywood, California in 1946. Owner of the famous Cock N' Bull Jack Morgan invented his own special ginger ale(which he calls ginger beer) to tame the fiery taste of quality Russian vodka. But on it's own, Cock N' Bull is one heck of a great drink, or an excellent mixer. It's unbeatable.

Ginger also has some awesome health benefits as well. Ginger is claimed to be a wonderful natural treatment for ovarian cancer. One medical study found that ginger kills off cancer cells. Ginger is also thought to slow down colon cancer as well. Ginger also is a natural pain killer and an anti-inflammatory agent and helps to ease migraines. Ginger also helps with upset stomach, food poisoning and menstrual cramps pain as well. In Chinese medicine, ginger is an important natural medicine. And with it's strong natural ginger taste, Cock N' Bull might just offer significant health benefits not offered by other soft drinks.

The fact of the matter is that Cock N' Bull is one of the best American soft drinks ever produced and is certainly the king of ginger ale drinks. Excellent ++++

Friday, September 18, 2009

Folk Singer Mary Travers Dead At 72

Popular blond folksinger Mary Travers who sang with Peter, Paul & Mary and had many huge hits such as "Puff The Magic Dragon" which hit #2 on the pop charts, has died due to chemotherapy complications related to her leukemia treatment. The folk trio also helped to popularize the songwriting of Bob Dylan with hits like "Blowin' In The Wind". Dylan was just 22 at the time. The trio also managed the awesome feat of having three albums among the top six best selling albums on the Billboard charts in 1963. prior to The Beatles, Peter, Paul & Mary were among the biggest pop success ever.

Mary Travers also had several successful solo albums as well, although her greatest success was with the very popular folk singer trio. Some of their songs such as "Blowin' In The Wind" became a popular anthem for the 1960's antiwar movement. The group often performed for antiwar and civil rights events. The group also performed for the historic 1963 March On Washington as well as took their part in the 1965 marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in support of voting rights.

Some in the folk music sphere considered the music of Peter, Paul& Mary way too commercial for their tastes, however their ability to entertain as well influence 1960's society cannot be understated. In some small part they probably helped to advance civil rights as well as advance social progress. They were simply superstars.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unemployed Farmhand Wins AMERICA"S GOT TALENT

Sensational country western singer Kevin Skinner won AMERICA's GOT TALENT last evening. The unemployed chicken catcher has a uniquely honest sounding voice and has the potential to become something like a new Johnny Cash-type folk hero performer. Skinner more than has all of the talent and potential to become one of the greatest country western vocal performers of all time.

With his fantastic vocal style, Skinner won both the $1 million prize as well the opportunity to headline in Las Vegas. Certainly a major recording contract deal should be coming as well. Skinner should become a major chart topping act on the country western charts before long.

Once again AMERICA'S GOT TALENT proved as a major talent search to find a great new performing talent, and Skinner is a fantastic singer with a wonderful vocal style. Skinner hopes to fill concert halls within 5 years. But with this much talent, his rise to stardom should be much faster than that.

Henry Gibson: LAUGH-IN's Poet Laureate Dead At 73

Henry Gibson, the short little comic who was so familiar as "The Poet" on the ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN from 1968-1971, has died of cancer at the age of 73. While LAUGH-IN might have been one of his most familiar roles, Gibson has an extensive filmography of work starting with the 1963 Jerry Lewis comedy classic, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. But perhaps his greatest acting triumph was his excellent role in NASHVILLE in 1975.

While Gibson mostly a comic actor adding a quirky touch to films such as 1989's THE BURBS as a bizarre new neighbor, he was a great addition to horror films such as TRAPPED ASHES in 2006. Gibson's last film appearance was in 2008 in BIG STAN. On BOSTON LEGAL, Gibson won praise playing character Judge Clark Brown.

Sadly Gibson's wife, Lois, died in 2007. Gibson has three sons. In another week he would have been 74. He will be deeply missed as a highly intelligent comic who often presented funny and quirky characterizations with a classic deadpan style of mock seriousness.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jay Leno Draws Huge 18.4 Million Viewers

Jay Leno's new 10PM prime-time comedy show is a runaway success for NBC. On Monday, the show claimed a huge 18 million viewers, something that no NBC 10PM show has claimed since the peak years of ER. Leno's new show managed a great marketing coup by having singer Kanye West on as a guest right after his notorious appearance at the VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS. Leno booked Jerry Seinfeld and other major guests as well.

Leno's new show had to look to book many non-network stars because of networks like ABC, CBS and FOX banning their stars from the new prime-time Leno show. But despite this, many top stars promoting films or other projects are appearing in their place. Leno also has more comedy bits as well. Unlike the old program where all of the comedy was during the first half hour, the new show has comedy bits throughout the show.

NBC's bold move to have a prime-time Leno prevented his possible jump to either FOX or ABC, as well proved a brilliant programming cost cutting move.

Next week the new Leno show might be more tested as it runs against many new 10PM shows on the other networks like ABC, CBS and FOX. If Leno is still no top, it might force some rethinking just what should fill the 10PM hour on the other networks. You might expect a counter-programming jumble of some sorts if Leno appears to be salvaging the other networks viewers. The other networks have a huge investment in expensive 10PM dramas and can ill afford to bleed away viewers and advertising cash flow to a cheaper sort of programming like the new Leno show.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Business & Marketing: Eco-terrorists Strike Hummer Dealer

Eco-terrorists attacked a longtime Portland, Oregon Hummer and Cadillac dealer yesterday causing extensive acid damage to many vehicles. In true coward's fashion, The Earth Liberation Front was quick to praise the act of terror, however refused to accept responsibility for the terrorism. Unlike other terrorist organization's such as Al Qaeda who quickly accept responsibility for their acts of terror, members of ELF commit acts of terror and usually lie about their acts of terror until arrested, and then often attempt to accept plea bargain deals for lesser prison time. Of all the terrorist organizations, ELF likely rates as one of the most cowardly of them all. It is unclear why federal authorities cannot completely close down the organization under RICO or antiterrorism laws. But a far tougher law enforcement effort to close down this domestic terrorist organization is clearly needed.

ELF members were recently involved in toppling two large radio towers in the Seattle area, knocking some radio stations off the air in an attempt to censor the news media. ELF certainly is no advocate of a free society. You either have to conform to their ideology or else.

Vic Alfonzo Cadillac which has become Portland's main Hummer dealer had at least 15 Hummers badly damaged in the terrorist acid attack that ELF officially denies responsibly for, although many ELF members have been convicted before for similar criminal acts related to domestic terrorism. Although ELF claims to be antibusiness, in Portland, Oregon, one of the main leaders of ELF is actually businessman himself and operates a restaurant. Interestingly, in Oregon, ELF has been involved in acts of terrorism against McDonald's restaurants. Maybe to eliminate the competition?

Vic Alfonzo has had a loyal following of older customers for many years, and offers lots of extra care and service to customers such as free rides to pick up vehicles being repaired in their shop, etc. However, a few years ago when GM decided to end the Oldsmobile car line, Vic Alfonzo began to look for another line of vehicles to promote. Hummers became an obvious choice because doctors or other professionals needed these sturdy vehicles to get to work as well as their status symbol.

Portland State University Sociology Department professor Randy Blazak evaluated the terrorist attack at the auto dealer as "The Humvee has become sort of this symbol in our culture" to an interviewer at Portland's KATU NEWS. Blazak is an expert on domestic terrorism and other bizarre counter-culture movements of deviant behavior. Other experts have condemned ELF members from wanting to own property and businesses themselves, but use terrorism to destroy the property of others. They represent a bizarre juvenile and hypocritical mindset.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith probably coined the term, "conspicuous consumption". And professor Blazak believes that the Hummers might represent that factor in the disturbed and emotionally ill mindset of eco-terrorists who view themselves in some sort of economic war with capitalism and the symbols of culture although many ELF members don't appear to be real communists opposing private property ownership themselves.
The latest act of domestic terrorism has brought in FBI attention. More and more, terrorists of all types are facing better and better police actions. Just today, raids in the United States and military action abroad put a further dent into international terrorism.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Business & Marketing: Amy's Organic Salsa Tastes Great

Amy's which is known for great tasting organic foods has hit a real homerun with their great line of organic salsas. Despite a fairly steep retail price, the flavor of these salsas clearly rates among the very best sold on the American market. Many cheaper salsa simply add ample amounts of vinegar, however Amy's uses quality lime juice instead. This in addition to the fresh tasting organic tomatoes and ingredients leads to a salsa that is so clearly better than most brands.
Amy's seems to have a real handle on great tasting Mexican foods. And this line of salsas is real good.
Right away, the taster is struck with the very thick consistency of the salsa which is starkly different from the cheaper watery salsa brands. Clearly this is one of the best salsas made.
You can rate this salsa as four stars, excellent. ++++

Business & Marketing: "Cash For Clunkers" Creates Good Used Car Shortage & Higher Prices

The hope of the federal government and the automakers was that the "Cash For Clunkers" program would spur more new car sales and put more high mileage automobiles and trucks on the streets. It was intended to be a win-win business marketing program. Indeed, at least 700,000 total new units were sold during the campaign. However, the program was not without some highly negative consequences for the auto business. Many top selling used auto lots now find themselves in a real shortage for quality used cars and trucks as so many good quality vehicles that were hardly classified as true "clunkers" were turned in and destroyed in the program. Even many new car dealers who sell used cars find themselves being forced to run ads offering cash or high trade values for quality used vehicles to sell.

A further problem with the "Cash For Clunkers" is the huge carbon footprint it creates. The amount of environmental damage from having to create 700,000 new vehicle units includes strip mining of mountains and huge amounts of air pollution to either create the new vehicles or to tear down the old ones. It is highly difficult to see where slightly better gas mileage figures for the new vehicles compared to the older ones will even come close to matching the huge carbon imprint of creating whole new units. It also furthers a throwaway mentality for Americans, rather than conservation or getting extended life from products.

The strange thing about Americans is just how wasteful of motor vehicles that they already are. Why government should encourage this is highly suspect.This sharply contrasts with Cuba where 1950's vintage automobiles are still in daily use because of the embargo. Given half the opportunity, Americans will waste something no matter the outlay cost.

Also, if the government really wanted to save gasoline, it could run all government cars on high quality synthetic oils like AMSOIL for example and cut gasoline use by around 10%, but it doesn't. AMSOIL saves so much energy that one large bakery in Clackamas, Oregon cut electrical costs by $100,000 a year by running gears and gear cases on AMSOIL gear lube instead of petroleum oil. Yet government fails to promote the huge savings of high quality synthetic oils like AMSOIL.

Further some cities continue to erect fuel wasting "traffic calming" devices such as speed bumps or humps or excessive stop signs. This wastes fuel, or may encourage many motorists to buy a 10-15mpg SUV because so many speed bumps near their homes just tear up normal automobile suspensions compared to trucks and cost motorists average increased repair costs of $500 or more on normal automobiles. Further, many so-called "traffic calming" devices have been known to aggravate neck injuries or to lead to increased accidents by bicycles and automobiles. Sometimes with fatal results. "Traffic calming" devices also slow emergency vehicle response and result in more fire deaths and injuries and damage or slower 911 responses creating more needless deaths and insurance payouts costing insurance companies to charge higher premiums. California courts have already held companies that install speed bumps liable for damages. In some cases, injured bicycists have been awarded $125,000 settlements for injuries caused by speed bumps and humps. It is estimated that for every one life that "traffic calming" devices save it costs 85 deaths due to increased accidents or slower 911 response time.
Further many city leaders just don't appear intelligent enough to understand that placing road hazzards in the middle streets such as speed bumps or humps will certainly cause far injuries or deaths than they will save by slowing traffic by a marginal amount. However, some cities like the City Of Portland, Oregon receives a sort of royalty kickback from a major local speed hump manufacturer despite serious safety and product liability issues with their products compared to normal cheaper stop signs which are far safer and cheaper. But who ever said that government was in the business of saving money anyway?

On many levels government often contradicts itself by discouraging fuel conservation or increasing vehicle maintenance costs or lessening traffic safety while supposedly attempting to create it. Indeed, the "Cash For Clunkers" was such a contradictory mess of a program with largely the aim of helping some auto companies sell more vehicles as the real goal. It was a marketing bonanza for the auto companies, but hardly without negative consequences for society as a whole.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Does Bill Clinton Have Parkinson's Disease

Some unusual neurological shaking in Bill Clinton's hands in public are fueling fresh rumors that the former president either has Parkinson's disease or some other deteriorating neurological illness. Further evidence is that he sometimes has a nearly waxy tone, compared to his more normal rosy appearance. Even ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT has speculated that the former president might be ill this past week as well.

A few months ago in an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN, Bill Clinton had hoped to dispel any rumors about his health claiming that he had been tested for Parkinson's disease and did not have the disease. However, the new footage of handshaking moments as well as his skin appearance have spurred fresh rumors once again.

The fact is if the former president had been tested for Parkinson's disease, then some questions about his neurological health existed. Yet the former president hasn't offered any good public explanation for this. The former president will likely live a long life. However, some good questions about his health seem to exist.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Here Comes The Judge: Ellen Degeneres Replaces Paula Abdul On AMERICAN IDOL

Comic Ellen DeGeneres is an avid fan of AMERICAN IDOL. She absolutely loves the show. Now she has been named as the replacement judge for the departing Paula Abdul who might want to be spending more quality time with her prescriptions. Despite a hectic schedule doing her own daily talk show, Ellen DeGeneres will find time to do the second show.

Despite many rumors about problems in her personal life as well as some erratic public behavior, Paula Abdul was a popular figure on the show. It will be difficult to replace her in that regard. She did have her fans, although she hasn't had a new recording in some time. At one time, Paula Abdul was a major force on the pop and dance charts with many highly successful singles. Abdul is also an acclaimed dancer as well.

Ellen DeGeneres does have a huge and loyal in-built fan base who love her as well. She will bring part of that audience with her no doubt. And with a personality much like comic Bob Newhart, Ellen DeGeneres will likely be seen as the "nice" judge on the panel, compared to the other tougher critics of the performances. Yet, when an act is exceptionally bad, you can probably expect Ellen DeGeneres to launch a joke or two.

The ratings have slumped slightly on IDOL this season, so likely a little shot in the arm by adding a new judge might just help a bit. And Ellen DeGeneres is such a popular comic that she might just bring a ratings boost to the show this coming season.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Beatlemania II: The Digital Age

Beatlemania is back! The exciting new releases of the long awaited remastered catalog of recordings plus the sensational new Beatles version of Rock Band are creating lots of new interest in the classic rock foursome. Both are way cool items sure to reignite interest in perhaps the greatest rock act of all time.

For years, the only remastered Beatles recordings were some bootlegs issued by shadowy music distributors such as Mirror Spock. These weren't remastered from any original session tapes, but from high quality vinyl records. However, the 24 bit "remastering" quality was quite good. It was amazing that the officially licensed recordings took so long to be remastered. There are expected to be at least two different box sets of the official remastered recordings available and likely soon the single albums will be available as well. Each should come with restored artwork, etc. Reportedly a 14 disc stereo box set and 10 disc mono box set will be available. According to some experts on Beatles music such as Eric at Crossroads Records in Portland, Oregon, the mono recordings of The Beatles have a far more psychedelic feel compared to the stereo releases. Further, the stereo releases often had extreme channel separation compared to many more conventional stereo recordings by other artists.

The other big news is today's debut of the electronic game Rock Band. The son of George Harrison was the major force behind this great new item. It features electronic versions of the band that you can play along with. Rock Band will be available in sets starting at about $59 for the software only packages all the way up to really nice $249 packages that include electronic guitars and drums.

If anything, the digital age has put a new spin on the old Beatles music and made it cool and brand new once again. And today's huge new digital age releases should mean some major foot traffic at stores once again giving both record stores and electronic game retailers some new excitement.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Giant Vienna Michael Jackson Tribute Concert Planned

Major recording artists such as Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Natalie Cole, Sister Sledge and Angela Bassett have committed for a giant European concert in Vienna to be played in front of the former imperial Schoenbrunn Palace which was once the seat of power for the nation. The open air event should draw a massive crowd and will be the largest tribute set for Europe since the death of superstar Michael Jackson.

While a crowd of at least 65,000 are expected to attend the live event, it will also be available worldwide as a satellite pay-per-view event as well. Worldwide the event is expected to draw a massive international audience.

The performers will perform many of the hit songs written by Michael Jackson. The big concert event will feature the same musicians and dancers who would appeared in the Michael Jackson European tour that never happened due to the sudden death of the singer. Reportedly, a castle location was chosen to host the major event because of the love Michael Jackson had for castles. The event might be as close to an actual Michael Jackson concert as one may come.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Jay Leno May Face A Guest Shortage, But a Programming Advantage

There are pretty good rumors that competing networks such as ABC, CBS and FOX consider Jay Leno's new prime time 10PM program to be enough of potential threat that they've banned their own network stars from appearing on his show. All of this might lead to something of a celebrity shortage that Leno might be filling with new comedy segments. Leno will always draw celebrities out to promote new films. However, if some competing networks don't allow their celebrities to appear, it might be a little tough to fill out the schedule.

Leno's new program will have a different look than his old show, so don't expect just a 10PM version of his old show. One good example is a new ongoing comedy segment featuring acclaimed comic D.L. Hughley called Stories "Not Good Enough For Nightly News". Another promising new comedy bit features celebrities competing in something called "Green Car Racing". Two Australian comics will have a new segment in which they invade the personal space of unwitting victims for laughs. Leno also promises to spend less time behind a desk and have more Q&A interaction with the audience as well.

However, the big question remains will this new 10PM comedy lead to a trend of less expensive dramas on TV and more cheap to produce shows like this. Some networks such as CBS have an excellent quality, expensive to produce nightly 10PM drama airing every evening except Saturday, which is the only throw-away night of the week for the networks. If Leno creates too much competition CBS and ABC might have to rethink what the 10PM means for network programming. But for cost-conscious NBC the idea of a lower budget program like a 10PM version of the JAY Leno suits them fine.

NBC also derives other benefits from a 10PM version of Jay Leno. After Leno decided to retire and hand over the TONIGHT SHOW to Conan O'Brien, he began to have second thoughts about retirement. Almost immediately stories that both ABC and FOX began to court Leno began to surface. By adding a new PM slot for Leno, NBC was able to keep him in their camp and satisfied, besides being able to dramatically cut TV schedule production costs. For NBC, it was a pure win-win proposition. Leno could potentially be NBC's best bet for a new program on this Fall Schedule.

Now the the big question remains whether audiences will tune in for a 10PM version of Leno. If the new show draws big numbers, then NBC betted right. It might also be that many aging viewers might just find an earlier version of Leno more to their liking than staying up later for Conan who appeals more to younger viewers. NBC might have just betted right on this.

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Lionsgate Films sure churns out the horror flicks. Many are made on tight budgets by smaller production groups. However, a few are fairly effective for the money spent. But the horror flick THE LAST RESORT sort of misses that mark. It's hardly a great film, but just a barely acceptable late night popcorn film.

The film revolves around a group of young women on vacation in Mexico to party because one is getting married. Unfortunately, four of the women fall in with some criminals posing as a tour guide service and end up robbed and stranded out in the Mexican desert. Even worse, they wander until they find an abandoned resort in which an evil takes over and possesses their souls, turning each evil and twisted. The fifth young woman goes on a search for her friends and expectedly falls into trouble with her friends. The plot is about to be as expected about midway through this average grade horror flick. But the film leaves the viewer somewhat unfulfilled. There's just not quite enough there to really satisfy.

If you're looking for something new to watch on home DVD, this is one of the latest releases from Lionsgate. But it's far from the best horror flick that they ever launched.

Lionsgate recently released this new DVD on August 18. For the lack of anything better to watch, this film is an okay watch, but not great watch by any means. Fair ++

Friday, September 04, 2009

Ashlee Simpson: Puttin' On The Ditz

In case you missed it, ditzy singer/actress Ashlee Simpson was a bit more ditzy than usual last night on Jimmy Fallon's LATE NIGHT show. It was another pure Ashlee Simpson classic performance. Bad. Some might even speculate whether she might have partaken in the fresh refreshments drinks for the guests a bit too much. Regardless, it was another silly appearance by an embarrassing performer who only stands in the shadow of fame of her far more talented sister.
Simpson was supposed to be promoting her upcoming debut on the revival of MELROSE PLACE which looks like a potential train-wreck. The old drama at least featured talent like Heather Locklear, who was always known for a great work ethic. You can likely look for a quick cancellation of the new series if it isn't very good. Then again the standards for what the CW Network feels fit to air aren't very high to say the least. Expect this network to continue to struggle if it continues to air garbage programming far from critical praise.
Interestingly, the new MELROSE PLACE will be absolutely loaded up with current pop songs, which should make it have an identity far from the old series. This is an obvious attempt to make the series more appealing to an younger audience. And Ashlee Simpson does have her fans. But whether she can really act will be a test in this series.
But in a world in which no publicity is bad for some entertainers, it will interesting to see whether the negative buzz about Simpson's LATE NIGHT performance really helps or not. But it was hardly an inspiring sendoff for the new MELROSE PLACE series. The struggling CW Network could have used some better publicity.